Club scene ecstasy dealer busted during traffic stop
A MACKAY ecstasy dealer sold in city centre nightclubs and bars, embracing a "seedy criminal lifestyle" to pay down a drug debt.
But his plan was ultimately unsuccessful due to a minor traffic infringement, which resulted in the discovery of 38 MDMA (ecstasy) pills in his car.
Aiden Reece Fisher, a 19-year-old Red Rooster worker with very limited criminal history, was supported by a crowd of family members in Mackay Supreme Court on Tuesday.
They collectively sighed with relief when Fisher narrowly avoided jail time.
Justice James Henry said during the hearing "people need to know they'll go to jail if they're a drug dealer", but noted there was "exceptional circumstances" in Fisher's case.
Crown prosecutor Dane Marley argued Fisher - who sold about 650 pills for $5 profit each over 15 weeks - should face time behind bars, in line with community expectations.
But defence barrister Bronwyn Hartigan, instructed by firm Strutynski Law, argued Fisher's clear rehabilitation could be compromised if he was "corrupted at a young age" in prison.
Fisher fronted the court pleading guilty to trafficking MDMA between June-September last year in Mackay.
He also pleaded guilty to possessing MDMA and possessing a mobile phone connected to the trafficking.
Mr Marley said Fisher, who had a prior offence of trespassing, was selling between 50-80 pills each week or fortnight, either through text message transactions or dealing at clubs and bars.
Though Fisher supplied up to 40 pills on one occasion, generally he was selling one or two pills to individual buyers, buying them at $19-22 per pill and selling for $25-30.
Police busted Fisher on September 17 last year, when they pulled over his car because the headlights weren't switched on.
Mr Marley said a search found 40 pills in a fishing tackle-box and eight in an Eclipse Mints tin.
In an interview with police after his arrest, Fisher initially said texts found referred to nightclub drink cards.
Later, Fisher told officers he sourced the pills online, from the Silk Road black market, but he eventually admitted the ecstasy was bought conventionally.
In a second interview Fisher provided details above and beyond what police gauged by his text messaging, Mr Marley said.
Ms Hartigan told the court Fisher's a young man who was born and raised in Mackay in a supportive family environment - evidenced by the courtroom packed with Fisher's family members.
She said Fisher had broken up with his previous girlfriend and lost his job as a freight driver, leading him to the use of marijuana and eventually ecstasy.
After racking up a drug debt of about $5500, Fisher turned to selling drugs and did not personally profit, Ms Hartigan said.
The lawyer added Fisher had been drug free since his arrest and tendered drug test reports to prove her client was clean.
Ms Hartigan also said Fisher - "a young man that made a very grave mistake" - had dropped dodgy friends and moved in with a new girlfriend and house-mates who are not drug users.
A pile of character references were tendered, which referred to Fisher's dealing as out of character.
Ms Hartigan asked Justice Henry to consider Fisher's case as exceptional, due to his young age, lack of history and "excellent prospects" for continued rehabilitation.
Justice Henry said "people have died" using ecstasy and he referred to Fisher as "a stupid young idiot who wound up with a drug debt" who embarked on a "seedy criminal lifestyle".
He referred to suspended sentences and the like as "fictional jail sentences", where the community was concerned.
Still, he took into account Ms Hartigan's submissions and in particular Fisher's youth.
Fisher was sentenced to two and a half years jail with immediate parole and ordered to undergo 150 hours of community service.
Convictions were recorded.